Punjab Expansion, Two More Congress MLAs Upset

Congress finalized the names of nine new ministers on Friday after meetings, spread over two days, between party chief Rahul Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in New Delhi.

Two Congress MLAs expressed disappointment on Saturday for being ignored in the expansion of the Punjab Cabinet, hours before the scheduled swearing-in of the new ministers.

Navtej Singh Cheema and Gurkirat Singh Kotli voiced their unhappiness a day after another Congress legislator Sangat Singh Gilzian resigned from All India Congress Committee (AICC) and as Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee vice president over the issue.

Congress finalized the names of nine new ministers on Friday after meetings, spread over two days, between party chief Rahul Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in New Delhi.

Khanna MLA Gurkirat Singh Kotli, who is the grandson of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, said “old and traditional” families that have won elections for the party should have been considered for Cabinet berths.

“I meet all the criteria for becoming a minister but a junior person has been inducted. I fought three elections and won twice,” Navtej Singh Cheema said.

Cheema, who is from Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district, said he was disappointed that the Doaba region was “ignored.”

“Only one ministerial berth has been given to Doaba (Sunder Shan Arora) and that too represents the Kandi area. The main Doaba region comprising Jalandhar and Kapurthala, which is known as the NRI belt, is completely ignored,” Cheema said.

“Whenever Congress won seats from the Doaba region, it formed the government,” he said.

He said the party picked three ministers from one district but had ignored Doaba.

With the induction of Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Randhawa in the Cabinet, Gurdaspur district now has three ministers.

Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa (Fatehgarh Churian) and Aruna Chaudhary (Dinanagar) already represented the district in the ministry.

Amritsar also has three ministers now with the induction of O P Soni (Amritsar Central) and Sukhbinder Sarkaria (Raja Sansi). Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar East was already a minister.

Cheema said he could not understand why his name was “dropped at the last moment” and will take up the matter with the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, Kotli argued in favour of Punjab’s “traditional” families.

“Old and traditional families that have been winning continuously and worked hard for the party should have also been considered,” he said.

Kotli’s grandfather Beant Singh was chief minister and his father Tej Partap Singh was a minister in previous Congress government.

But he added everyone will accept the decision taken by the party high command and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

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